The Journey so far-
Day 2 – 6th October, 2011 | Ribba – Puh – Khab Bridge – Nako Lake
It was 6.30 AM when my eyes shutters opened at PWD Rest House of Ribba, Kinnaur Valley. I knew it will be late now as we decided to leave by 7 AM for another long day ahead. In matter of second I was out of my bed shouting on the other room to wake up lazy kids Saurabh and Dhruv. Neeraj being sincere was awake and started getting ready and by 7.15 AM we both were downstairs to load the luggage in the car. The front tyre of the car was leaking air and it was too low, about 18-20 PSI I guess. I inquired around and there was no mechanic open but I thought it will make it to next mechanic shop for sure. So, without much worries we ordered Tea with fans at a tea shack nearby PWD Rest House. As expected, there were no signs of Saurabh and Dhruv even by 7.45 AM. Finally, Dhruv came out but Saurabh was still bathing in the room as we settled the bill with Saikalan at PWD Rest House. Being late meant he won’t be getting anything to eat or drink as a penalty and had to wait for the next food stop.
Finally at 8.10 AM the white queen was running to join the Hindustan – Tibet Highway which was about 2 KMs away. We crossed the famous 350-feet long Akpa bridge and after driving few 100 Mtrs on the left side of River Satluj, we had to register ourselves with vehicle number at the Lippa – Jangi police checkpost for the first time. This meant we are into the Inner Line zone now where foreigners are required to present the inner line permits. The rules for Indians are relaxed in this part of the region unlike Ladakh and you just need to present the Photo ID may be preferably, driving license with vehicle registration number. After 10 minutes of this formality we were running again on the highway. I never saw Satluj river as beautiful as it was running aside us and boasting the shades of aqua green color. There was no reason to stop and take some pictures with it.
I was more concerned of the low air pressure and unavailability of mechanic shop so far. The guys at police checkpost had told us that we will not find anything before Spillow, so our next target was to reach Spillow. Roads started to deteriorate as we moved and I also had the read that road from Spillow to Dubling was in really poor shape but even before Spillow the roads were bad. We reached Spillow village and saw that one and only puncture repair shop closed 🙁 … Now, we knew more bad roads are coming and Puh was still far away, however one of the pick-up drivers had confirmed that we will get the mechanic at Puh just ahead of Puh general store. After some really bad roads, we were finally there at Puh and thank god the power was also present along with the mechanic just aside of the highway. He confirmed that the large puncture was leaking and for the first time I saw puncture being repaired without removing the tyre from the car 😯 but in the end it was a clever tip. He told us that though he will put two fixes side by side but due to bad roads this will again wear out after a day or two since the cut is too wide. We didn’t have any choice than to accept the fact and leave it on the destiny 🙂 …
Meanwhile we searched for some dhabha around and only came to know that we need to go upwards about 2 KMs towards Puh Village to get some food. We were not in the mood to go off track owing to the late start and decided to check out the Puh General Store. By general store, you must be imagining the local grocery shops with house hold items. Wait!!! The shop was a true general store in real sense as it was selling items ranging from day to day household ones to confectionaries to hardware material to metal sheets to PETROL / DIESEL to what not 😯 😯 … He He He, guess this is how things work in such remote locations. Nevertheless, we bought many eggs, maggie, Amul Cool Cafe tins, some cold drinks etc. and only 2 of the 4 Amul Cafes had non-expired dates but WHO CARES!! 😆 … We were on the move again and steering was feeling too light now owing to correct air pressure in the wheels and driving was more fun.
Meanwhile the roads had started to improve considerably from Puh itself it was indeed a pleasure to drive into the Trans-Himalayan range. Saurabh in between was getting restless for something to eat, food may be and I knew nothing is available before Nako but he insisted to take the route towards Khab Village, a diversion from main highway towards Shipki La pass and Namgia village. I have seen in the pics that Khab was a deserted places and we will not find anything there but still took Saurabh’s option as an opportunity to drive much closer to Tibet. Shipki La pass, about 25 KMs from Khab village (which was 5KMs from the diversion), though is motorable but due to army restrictions no one is allowed to go towards it being right on the border of India and Tibet (China). One cannot get the permits to visit Shipki La pass with ease and if you really want then landing just there would and happy mood of army personals would be your best bet. But, keep in mind that the land is forbidden ahead of Namgia and better be prepared for any sought of interrogation or happy venturing!! As we were near to Khab village few locals coming confirmed that we will not find anything and it is better not to waste time and head towards Nako to eat something. Disappointed we took the U-Turn down towards the main highway running aside river Satluj.
The diversion only meant we were much delayed for the long awaited brunch by about 40 minutes or so. Soon, we were at the first highlight of the trip, the famous Khab Bridge and the carved mountains ahead of it. At Khab bridge, one witness the confluence of Sutluj and Spiti rivers and is also one of the rarest examples where you enter the Trans-Himalayan range without crossing over any high mountain pass 🙂 … Driving through the carved roads is just an amazing feeling which cannot be described in words and there was a tense moment when the road was broken with loose soil + very narrow with steep climb making the white queen skid. But, with over caution and care and of course, god’s grace the patch was safely cleared. We reached the hair pin bends of Kah loops about 10 KMs in length, which will ascend us to Hangrang Valley and further to Nako village. The road was black top, tarred all the way to the top and further to Nako village through these Kah loops.
We really enjoyed the drive through Kah loops where the land was totally arid and barren without least or almost nil traffic on the roads. There are surely the roads less travelled of trans Himalayan region. We enjoyed various photo shoots – on,in,side,top etc everywhere on those roads with breathtaking backdrops. Finally, we reached the Dhabha in front of Nako Helipad to have first meal of the day. Nako village and Nako lake was ahead of dhabha about 1 KM away from the NH-22. But, first we wanted badly something to eat. We ordered omelet, no lots of omelets 😀 … The wind was chilly and was blowing at great velocity, may be, if you help it will take you away atleast from the helipad. The views from Nako helipad were just mind boggling. We enjoyed the brunch in the form of omelets and many cups of tea. Feeling satisfied from the stomachs we were ready to move towards Spiti at about 1 PM with malling nalla torturing in minds. However, as we saw just board stating Nako Lake – 1 KM, we said why not give it a chance since the destination of the day was just 50 KMs ahead that is Tabo 🙂 …
We decided to visit the Nako lake and to our surprise the Nako lake had beautiful, vibrant colors at this time of the year “Autumn”. It turned out to be the major highlight of the day so far and the place was giving a feel so close to nature that I just couldn’t help myself to get away from the place. We spent about half an hour around the lake and it felt so amazing, just out of the world. I wished I always lived here with such breath taking vistas at the backside of the village giving it more flavours of a dream location. However, every dream has to end with a wake up call and for us it was from big bengalis group who entered from every direction they found 😆 … We knew it was time to leave and move on for the final drive of the day.
The Journey ahead-